A teenage South Florida drug dealer named Silas Spence thought he was buying $3,000 worth of marijuana he hoped to re-sell on the streets for a profit.
Turns out, it was the green stuff most kids hate.
"He got broccoli that resembled marijuana," Aventura Police Detective Tom Mundy testified on Tuesday.
And that's not all. The mystery man passing off the veggies then robbed Spence at gunpoint, leaving him and his drug-dealing buddy, Lucas Seeger, out $3,000, according to testimony in court.
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It was that botched drug deal that spurred Spence, days later, to plan a series of drug rip-offs that ultimately led to the killing of another teen, Omar Darwish, outside the Aventura LA Fitness in January.
"He said, "I need to rob someone. We need to get this money back,'" a 17-year-old girl named L.W., Seeger's girlfriend, testified on Tuesday, adding: "Silas was acting irrational."
The new details about the high-profile killing emerged Tuesday at a bail hearing for Seeger, 19, who is charged in the rare homicide case in Aventura, the well-heeled city northeast of Miami that rarely logs violent crime. The story was made even more sensational because the suspected drug dealer targeted outside the gym was 17-year-old Michael Gonzalez, the longtime childhood pitchman for Kendall Toyota — whose face for years appeared on ubiquitous South Florida TV spots and billboards.
Darwish, 18, was Gonzalez's friend and was shot once in the neck when the robbery went south in the LA Fitness parking lot on the night of Jan. 19. Gonzalez has not been charged; he was not called to testify at Tuesday's hearing.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Del Pino late Tuesday decided prosecutors had enough evidence to keep Seeger in jail before trial. He is charged with armed robbery and first-degree felony murder; in Florida, someone who participates in a violent felony can be convicted of murder if someone dies during the crime.
"The court does not feel comfortable he is not going to continue in the illegal activity he was in," Del Pino said.
Spence, 18, is also behind bars and awaiting trial on the same charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors portrayed Seeger and Spence as best friends and suburban drug dealers who bought a Glock pistol to help keep themselves safe. But the night of the broccoli episode, they'd left the gun in the car.
Seeger said had lent Spence the $3,000 to make the deal.
"I told Silas get my money. I need my cash," Seeger told police in a videotaped statement played in court.
Days later, Spence — with the help of L.W. and Seeger — did their first robbery, stealing marijuana oil from some "kids" who had done business with them before, according to court testimony.
Spence, L.W. testified, was able to pay back the $3,000 but got a taste for robberies.
Prosecutors say Seeger, Spence and several other teens then planned to rob Gonzalez, who was to sell them $800 worth of marijuana oil cartridges for an e-cigarette. One of the other teens, E.B., knew Gonzalez and thought he "would be an easy person to rob," according to an arrest warrant.
Seeger was the getaway driver, Miami-Dade prosecutor Sara Imm told the judge.
"Mr. Seeger played an active role in a robbery," Imm said.
Defense lawyer Dan Lurvey replied: "There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Lucas Seeger was aware Silas Spence was going to take a firearm and rob those individuals."
Spence contacted Gonzalez through Snapchat, arranging the deal to take place in the parking lot of the LA Fitness on the 3400 block of Northeast 207th Street. Gonzalez was with Darwish, a friend from high school, and the two approached the Mercedes driven by Seeger.
However, Spence grew angry and called off the deal, accusing Gonzalez of being a police informant. Gonzalez, through Snapchat, coaxed Seeger and Spence back to the parking lot, L.W. testified in court.
But as Gonzalez got into their Mercedes, prosecutors say, Spence handed Gonzalez a bullet and said: "I'm going to pay you with this," police said.
"I knew this was going to happen,” Gonzalez replied, according to police, before jumping out of the car, pushing past Darwish — who had a realistic-looking BB gun tucked in his waistband.
Prosecutors say Spence yelled out, "He has a gun."
"He just stuck his hand out the window and shot," L.W. told the judge.
A single shot hit Darwish in the neck. The boys in the Mercedes drove off, leaving Darwish on the ground mortally wounded.
“We have to put it on top of Omar and say it was him,” Gonzalez cried, according to the warrant.
Then, police say, Gonzalez dumped out the 25 marijuana oil cartridges from a Target bag onto Darwish’s body. A passerby happened upon the scene and called 911.